Kiana Hayeri – part 2

When Kiana Hayeri moved from Iran to Canada in 2005 she spoke very little English, so one of the greatest challenges she faced was overcoming the language barrier. Kiana had already fulfilled many of the credits she needed so she chose to take all the art classes that were offered at her school, in addition to English classes. ‘That was my very first time walking into a darkroom and struggling to unload my film in the pitch black,’ she recalls. From all the media she was introduced to, from sculpture to painting and graphic design, ‘photography allowed me to express myself without having to explain things in words – it was a medium that enabled me to communicate with my surroundings.’

Zahra, aged 10. 'Zahra comes from a liberal Muslim family and as I was photographing her, becoming an adolescent, the conflict of two cultures would often pop up.'

Kiana heard about the Guernsey Photography Festival through a friend and she was inspired by the Journey theme because it encapsulated her work perfectly. Winning the Festival competition has already brought more attention to Kiana’s photography and, of course, it has provided her with the funds to work on her Journey project, which will be exhibited at the Guernsey Photography Festival from 24th May 2012 along with her winning entry May God be with you, my daughter.

A teenage boy rests during late-night biking practice in Bushwick, Brooklyn. ‘In contrast to the crime statistics, I was struck by the peaceful sense of intimacy amongst kids growing up in this neighbourhood.’

Kiana explains her forthcoming project: ‘As a kid in northern Tehran, I barely had any chance to travel and explore while I was growing up. My interest and main sense of inquisitiveness was developed after I moved to Canada. I still don’t think I know enough about the Iran with some ten ethnicities and more than 50 dialects spoken. So I proposed my Journey to the Guernsey Photography Festival to feed my own curiosity. I will be travelling throughout Iran, border to border, documenting the daily lives of nine-year-old girls. According to Islamic Shi’a laws, a nine-year-old girl is considered to be mature enough to take on “life responsibilities”, but those responsibilities vary from town to town, throughout the country.’

Iran is a country in a state of flux, something Kiana notices when she returns: ‘I miss the Iran that I remember growing up in, but every time I go back, I am reminded that Iran has changed as much as I have changed.  I feel more and more distanced from my homeland and disconnected from the friends I grew up with.’

It is clear that this intensely personal journey will allow Kiana to reconnect with her home country and to gain a deeper understanding of how its society is changing.  That we will be able to share some of this insight is a privilege, and a reminder of how photography can expand our own horizons.  The Guernsey Photography Festival team looks forward to welcoming Kiana to our island home – and you definitely won’t want to miss her Journey.

Ghazaleh, having a moment, on her way back from the first Mother's Day dinner in the absence of her father. Ghazaleh and Farhang lost their father on their 30th birthday.

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